The Forgetting Curve in eLearning: What eLearning Professionals Should Know

The Forgetting Curve in eLearning

The human brain is an amazing mechanism. It can store vast amounts of information, carry out the most complex of tasks, and bounce back from experiences that would render other parts of the body virtually useless. But the brain does have an Achilles’ heel- which is no other than memory retention. Simply put, what we learn may not stick in our brain due to the forgetting curve. This means that even the most powerful eLearning experiences will be ineffective, as memory overload will prevent us from absorbing and retaining information for later use.

So, what is the forgetting curve?

The idea of  “forgetting curve” is credited to Hermann Ebbinghaus, a notable German experimental psychologist, born in 1850. Ebbinghaus theorized that the human brain will forget information it has learned if that information is not put into practice. The longer we wait to apply acquired knowledge, the less we remember it. For example, if an individual is taught how to carry out a basic customer service transaction, such as completing a return, but is not required to put this information into practice, he/she will gradually forget the steps involved over the course of time.

According to Ebbinghaus’ research, there are a few key principles involved in the forgetting curve:

  1. It is often easier for learners to memorize new information if it ties into real world situations. Information must be relevant and meaningful to them, or else they are likely to forget it more rapidly.
  2. When there is more learning material involved, the amount of time it takes to absorb information significantly increases.
  3. As a general rule, learners are able to relearn information more easily than learning the subject matter for the first time. In addition, each time information is relearned, the length of time it takes to forget the information goes up.
  4. Learners are able to learn more effectively when information absorption is spread out over a longer period of time, as opposed to having to learn it all at once.
  5. Learners start to forget information immediately after the learning experience. In fact, this is the time when forgetting occurs most rapidly. However, forgetting will slow down over the course of time.

There are various studies regarding the forgetting curve and knowledge retention rates. Based on the Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve, learners will have forgotten an average of 90% percent of what they have learned within the first month. However, the nature of the subject matter, the learner’s background, the learner’s strength of memory and a variety of other factors will often have a significant impact upon the rate of forgetfulness in eLearning courses.

Based upon the ideologies of the forgetting curve, in order to avoid memory overload it’s important to keep lessons as brief as possible, and to offer follow-up learning experiences.  Learning must also be disbursed over time. For example, rather than holding one online training session once a year that takes up an entire work day, you can hold several shorter online training sessions throughout the year. By doing this you not only help to prevent cognitive overload, but you also enable your learners to digest the information and retain it more effectively over time.

The primary goal of any eLearning course or online training event is to offer learners a chance to fully absorb new skills and knowledge. By using the forgetting curve in eLearning design and development, you have the power to create eLearning experiences that are memorable and highly effective, so that your audience can forget about forgetting what they need to know!

Tips to boost knowledge absorption and retention

  1. Learners must know why they have to acquire the information offered in your eLearning course in order to become fully engaged. By doing so, the experience becomes more memorable and powerful, which can boost knowledge retention. As such, you’ll want to tie learning activities into real world challenges and benefits. Encourage them to put the information to use by integrating eLearning scenarios or simulations, so that they will realize the consequences or rewards of learning this new information.
  2. Upon completion of each module, learners should be assessed to see how much knowledge they have gathered. Not only will this help eLearning professionals to determine the effectiveness of the eLearning course, but will also allow the learners to review and put the information into practice almost immediately. Quizzes, tests, and learning activities that encourage learners to recall information in their own words are ideal assessment exercises.
  3. Learners who aren’t acquiring or retaining the information as effectively as their peers should be asked to attend follow-up learning sessions. This may be within a week of the initial session or a month, depending upon the subject matter and the scheduling. At the end of the follow-up session, another assessment should be conducted to gauge their progress.
  4. Develop modules or eLearning courses that are “bite-sized”, so that you can help to prevent memory overload. Have the learners go at their own pace, so that there is no pressure to keep up with their peers. This gives them the opportunity to fully absorb information and commit it to memory before exploring the next topic.

Keep this forgetting curve in eLearning tips on hand to boost knowledge retention when developing your next eLearning deliverables. Make them memorable, engaging, and effective for your audience.

If you’re interested in learning more about the forgetting curve in eLearning, check the infographic Memory Retention and the Forgetting Curve Infographic,which takes an in depth look at how the human brain absorbs and processes information.

Are you looking for additional ways to help you create immersive and engaging eLearning deliverables? In the article 5 Psychology Principles That eLearning Professionals Should Know, you will find what you need to know about how learners acquire information and why they need such information, which is the key to becoming a successful eLearning professional.


This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

How The Chief Learning Officer (CLO) Got It’s Name

Have you ever wondered how the Chief Learning Officer got it’s name?

Well, this legendary story starts at the University of Southern California (USC) in 1989 with Steve Kerr. No, not the basketball phenom, Steve Kerr but rather with the Chief Learning Officer, Steve Kerr. While bball Kerr was just starting his NBA career with the Phoenix Suns, our Steve Kerr was striking a deal with one of the greatest corporate leaders of the time, CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch. This 11-year journey began slowly but was then quick to change the face of corporate leadership development. The program that Steve worked on became the most prestigious Corporate Management Training program in the world. The “Aon Hewitt Top Companies for Leaders” has it ranked #1 in 2014.

Steve Kerr - The World's First Chief Learning Officer

Steve Kerr – The World’s First Chief Learning Officer

Steve started on this voyage by accepting to consult 25 days a year with General Electric (GE) while still a tenured professor at USC. Steve was the only professor from the West put into GE’s Nuclear company to train on “Work-out” (GE’s Process Improvement and Organizational Change program). Because he was a professor and administrator at the time, Steve figured he only had 25 days to spare. In spite of the expectation from GE that Work-out would go poorly within Nuclear because it is in such a heavily-regulated industry, it succeeded and Steve was to thank for it. Because of this success, other businesses within GE started utilizing his services, including training on conflict resolution and dealing with people.

It took only two years before Steve’s services were in such demand (210 days/year) that he resigned his position at USC. He became part of the Michigan faculty to be closer to Crotonville and the work he was doing with GE. This is also the time that Steve became the personal outside consultant for Jack Welch. Although multiple offers were made, it took four years before Steve said yes and went from an outside consultant to the Vice President of Leadership Development at the legendary Crotonville, NY training facility.

One month into the new position, Steve did a “Work-out” session with some of the top brass. They suggested that Steve be the Chief Education Officer, or CEO, for all of GE. He had fun with this and went to Jack Welch saying, “I’m going to be a CEO just like you.” Jack gave a robust laugh and informed Steve that there can be only one CEO at GE. Instead Jack offered, “You can be chief learning officer.” And that is the origin of the Chief Learning Officer.

The New York Times wrote an article about how GE now had a CIO and CLO and contrasted the two relatively new positions. Steve says, “It was my 15 minutes of fame. Then I had to figure it out. My job became to identify the barriers. What is it about the way we organize work and build rewards? What is it that keeps people from wanting to communicate, and what adjustments in rewards, and norms, and so on would create more motivation?”

Steve is still working with Jack Welch but back in academia at Chancellor University in Ohio,


This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

6 Tips To Turn Your Presentation Into An Interactive eLearning Course

How To Turn Your Presentation Into An Interactive eLearning Course

The secret to creating successful eLearning experiences is developing an environment that mimics the real world. An eLearning course that encourages learners to make choices that lead to consequences or highlights the real world benefits of the subject matter, through simulations and other interactive elements, is essential to its success. But what do you do if your content is wrapped up in a presentation that you’ve spent countless hours and resources creating, and now you want to make it more dynamic, engaging, and interactive? The answer is to turn your presentation into an interactive eLearning course.

  1. Choose the right eLearning authoring tool.
    There are a number of eLearning authoring tools that can help eLearning professionals transform presentations into dynamic and interactive eLearning courses. Here are the best eLearning authoring tools that you may want to consider:

    • Lectora 12 is the ultimate eLearning authoring tool for professionals who want to easily turn their presentations into eLearning courses. A remarkably simple, yet exceptionally powerful tool, Lectora 12 makes it easy to create eLearning courses that get results. Or, develop eLearning in the cloud with Lectora Online, perfect for collaboration and teamwork.
    • Elucidat is the fastest way for SMEs and non-technical authors to create engaging, interactive and gamified eLearning. It is a Brandon Hall Award Winning Authoring tool, which provides the building blocks you need to create well designed, and engaging eLearning without having to start from scratch. It is the perfect tool for turning presentation content into interactive eLearning courses.
    • Gomo is a cloud based, award winning e-learning software that allows you to create beautiful multi-device HTML5 courses in minutes. Using their intuitive drag and drop interface to convert PowerPoint presentations into highly interactive courses without programming. Drop in sound, video, animation, quizzes and rich interactivity to engage your learners. Also you can embed third party content from across the Internet, including Twitter feeds, YouTube and Vimeo videos, Google Maps and more. Last but not least, you can deliver your single-source content directly from Gomo to all your devices (including full-screen on smartphones and tablets) as well as desktops and your LMS.
    • Adobe Captivate 8 reimagines the way interactive eLearning is created for a multi-device world. Create multi-screen responsive eLearning without programming. You can use the intuitive UI to transform PowerPoint presentations into engaging eLearning and mLearning using actors, voices, interactions, and quizzes. Also leverage best-in-class HTML5 publishing to deliver any content to mobile devices, the web, desktops, and leading LMSs.
    • Based in PowerPoint, iSpring Suite 7 provides comfortable content authoring right in the familiar PowerPoint interface. Though it’s extremely easy to use, the tool is supercharged with a wide range of cool capabilities like adding rich media and characters, creating quizzes and interactions, and much more. After the course is ready, it can be easily published for virtually all browsers, mobile devices and LMSs thanks to the support of a cross-platform content format.
    • With Articulate Storyline 2 you can convert presentations, such as those created in PowerPoint, into interactive eLearning courses that feature rich and immersive multimedia content. Articulate Storyline 2 features a wide range of templates, screen capture tools, and a character library that you can use to design your eLearning course.
  2. Don’t be afraid to reorganize the layout.
    After you’ve chosen the ideal eLearning authoring tool, bear in mind that you don’t necessarily have to stick with the existing layout. In fact, you can make the eLearning course more interactive and engaging by merely rearranging the layout and design or by using page layout templates to speed up the eLearning development time. For example, if you have a PowerPoint presentation where the only distinguishing features are bullet points and a handful of stock images, you can change the background, include clickable links to outside resources, or add additional relevant and attention-grabbing graphics to make it more exciting. All by using a simple eLearning template.
  3. Create a branching menu for easy navigation.
    One of the most effective ways to integrate a healthy dose of interactivity into your new eLearning course is to add a menu at the beginning that allows learners to access to various modules quickly. Rather than sticking to the linear structure that virtually all presentations follow, you can now group content based upon ideas or subject matters and separate them into different modules. This also helps to prevent cognitive overload, given that your learners will only have to digest small bits of information at one time, and enables the learners to take control over their own eLearning experience. You can often create these branching menus by simply hyperlinking the modules on the main page.
  4. Use hyperlinks to integrate video into your eLearning course.
    Speaking of hyperlinks, their usefulness doesn’t stop with branching menus. In fact, they serve a variety of purposes in interactive eLearning course design. You can even use them to integrate videos into your eLearning course, whether you’ve created them yourself, use stock video, or you are taking advantage of previously uploaded videos, such as those on YouTube. This gives your learners the chance to expand their knowledge base and explore a topic in depth, without even clicking away from the eLearning course itself.
  5. Integrate characters and audio to make it immersive.
    When you want to turn your presentation into an eLearning course, even something as seemingly insignificant as background audio integration or use of a character  can make a world of difference. To include audio, you can add royalty free music or stock audio into your eLearning course to make it more immersive and entertaining. You can include a character by simply choosing eLearning stock from eLearning Brothers that offer 500,000 high quality stock assets. Turn an eLearning character into a host that helps the learners throughout the eLearning course or offers insight into key subject matters. For example, if there are bullet points within your presentation, why not let a stock image and a character share those important bits of information with the learners through dialogue boxes or audio narratives. The learners can then click on the box if they want to view all of the bulleted information at once or need to refresh their memory about a particular sub-topic. You can also integrate vector stock graphics or infographic that may supersede your design capabilities.
  6. Include stories and scenarios to boost interactivity.
    You can include storiesgame templates, and scenarios into your new eLearning course design. These elements not only make the eLearning course more effective, but more emotionally-centered too. If you currently have a static page within your presentation that delves into a real world example, for instance, you can transform it into an interactive scenario that encourages the learners to make choices and learn about real world consequences based upon the content that you already have. You can also opt to create stories that tie into real world situations or challenges, and then ask your learners questions based upon the story and also include links to videos or virtual lectures that pertain to the subject matter being discussed. This will instantly make your one-dimensional presentation into an amazing and memorable experience for your learners, thanks to the fact that they can connect and interact with the content.

By using these tips you can turn any presentation into an interactive eLearning course that engages, motivates, and excites your learners.

Looking for tips to create effective eLearning Presentations and Slideshows? At the article How To Create Effective eLearning Presentations and Slideshows you will find 10 tips that will help you to effectively create eLearning presentations and slideshows for your learners.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

2015 Global Online-Distance Education Symposium

2015 Global Online-Distance Education Symposium objectives are teaching, learning and connecting as follows:


Discuss critical success factors and innovative practices in online/distance education and training.
Examine the key components of effective applications: needs analysis, course design, teaching methods, active learning, learner support, management, policy, and evaluation.
Share successful approaches, strategies, and techniques.
Identify active teaching/learning methods for effective engagement, motivation, and performance outcomes.
Discuss major issues, new developments, and trends.


Reflect on progress made in online/distance education.
Consider future possibilities for online/distance education.
Increase knowledge about teaching/training related to online/distance education.


Facilitate networking among online/distance educators, practitioners and administrators.
Share program resources via technology (e.g., print, audio, video, multimedia, and the Internet).


Panel Discussions provide an opportunity for public discussion amongst a selected group of panelists. Central to the success of a panel discussion is the choice of a good topic as the focus for discussion and panel lists that bring differing perspectives and are confident in making clear arguments in a live situation. Panels should comprise of three to five scholars who present their arguments; a discussant offers critical comment on the arguments made and the discussion is opened up to the participating audience.


We understand that some presenters will not be able to make the trip to United Stated to present their research paper mainly due to financial and/or political restrictions on travel. Therefore, with the use of Skype, authors of accepted papers have the same publication opportunities as regular presenters. A research works submitted without the participant attending the conference in person, but presented via video conferencing are refereed and published (if accepted) in the conference proceedings. Conference fees are the same for both virtual and face-to-face presentation.

You can submit a research paper, case study, work in progress and report for virtual presentation under the open call for papers via email to

Please reference Global Online/Distance Education Symposium in your submission.


The Global Online/Distance Education Symposium invites presenters to become a Session Chair.

The duties of the Session Chair include, but are not limited to:

Introduction of every presenter including their biography.
Management of presentation time.
Run question and answer session upon completion of presentation
Individuals that are interested in participating as a Session Chair, please email your Resume or CV to The proposal will be reviewed by the Steering Committees.

The conference will be held at the University of Riverside on February 20-21, 2015.

This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

4 Important Reasons To Encourage Social Learning

Why You Should Encourage Social Learning

We live in a world of voyeurs and exhibitionists. In fact – we can go so far as to presume that each one of us displays these characteristics to some extent. We like to watch and we like to be watched; and by watching we learn. Social learning is a term that is not new to psychologists, and it is gaining momentum in the world of ‘Learning’ outside the psychological realm.

  1. There is a psychology behind social learning
    In the 1960s, a psychologist called Albert Bandura developed a theory called Social Learning Theory (that was when the term was coined). The theory analyzed the foundations of how people learned through observing others. The theory, under its very appropriately-coined name, was published after years of intense research that went so far as to disprove Skinner’s famous behavioral theory called Operant Conditioning. Several decades later, with the advent of the internet, social media sites, and technology-enabled learning we prudently snatched away the term from the realms of psychology; and before one could say Jack Robinson, a new and very superficial meaning was rendered to the otherwise respected and well-known term – social learning. And today, the term ‘social learning’ is used contextually to describe learning that happens via social media. Having said that, the social learning we know today quite subtly resonates with Bandura’s Social Learning theory – in that learning happens by watching and learning from peers, friends and colleagues on social media sites.
  2. We love to share
    The popularity of social media sites corroborates the fact that we are exhibitionists and voyeurs and that we are interested in sharing knowledge (from letting people know what we are eating on a particular day, to sharing the latest news), and collecting information (by reading and retaining what we read on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Flickr, etc.), from these sites. Knowledge sharing is already happening at the grass root levels. We always thought that learning took place within the four walls of a corporate training classroom, but that’s never been the case; real learning has always happened around the coffee machine in the office, and in (non) shady nooks and joints where like-minded individuals got together to share ideas. And today social media sites are where real learning happens. People have already found social media sites that they are comfortable with, and groups that they can relate to – and knowledge is shared back and forth at the speed of need.
  3. Social Learning is reliable
    Are social media sites safe? Are these sites a reliable medium to share information and expect people to grasp the concepts and ideas we want them to grasp? Would our messages be misconstrued? Would people share our message and would our message be learned? These are just some of the concerns that prevent organizational training heads from taking that plunge into social learning. The good news is this: Social media sites are reliable learning tools. It is from those who learn through this method that we get reports of greatest success – be it in the form of increased productivity, better understanding, happier customers, and more.
  4. Social learning is a process that perhaps started even before you had your organization’s training plan in place
    Social learning is already happening, and we are not in control of it. It’s happening at the lower levels – the grass root levels – among the common employees – at the non-managerial levels. And it’s happening in a smooth, seamless, flawless and successful way; and it’s happening in this fashion because managers are not in control of this type of learning, nor are they interfering with it. In his book, Drive: the surprising truth about what motivates us, Dan Pink talks about how humans have a desire to be autonomous, self-determined and connected to one another. He further adds that this tendency to be so is what drives people to achieve more. This probably explains why learning in a tight, controlled environment, is not always successful. We don’t wait to be told to learn or when to start learning. We, as a race, are autonomous beings – autonomous beings who fashion out a destiny for our own individual selves; and learning and gleaning knowledge are essential to carve out a niche for ourselves as well as a successful destiny. The social learning process is a constant process that happens voluntarily as well as involuntarily. And today, social media sites that allow us to share and gain knowledge are a boon to both voluntary as well as involuntary learners.

Social learning is happening all around us. Our employees are learning even without our knowledge; let them learn without our interference and they will continue to learn successfully. Leave social learning alone and let it happen, and it will continue to surprise us.


This post was first published on eLearning Industry.

Rapid E-Learning’s Best of 2014

It’s hard to believe we’re at the end of another year. For me it was a great year. I hope it was for you, as well. I got to meet so many blog readers from all over the world, Articulate successfully released Storyline 2, and we made significant improvements to the elearning heroes community with a focus on even more free tips, tutorials, and giveaways.

As with most end of year articles, here’s a roundup of popular posts and many of the free downloads from 2014.

Best of the Rapid E-Learning Blog

Free Templates & Free Graphics

Here are a few of the posts that offered free templates and graphics this past year.

Best of 2014: E-Learning Heroes Community

Here’s a list of featured articles, tutorials, and free downloads from the elearning community’s “best of 2014” list.

Have a great 2015!

Download your free 46-page ebook: The Insider’s Guide to Becoming a Rapid E-Learning Pro

Upcoming Events (2015)

  • Vancouver & Toronto Workshops: We’re planning a couple of workshops in Toronto & Vancouver. If you’re interested, let us know. Click here for more details.
  • March 25-27 (Orlando, FL). Learning Solutions. Swing by the Articulate booth to say “Hello.”
  • April 15 & 16 (Chicago, IL). Updated! Register for one or both days
    Day 1: How to Build Interactive E-Learning 
    Day 2: Use Articulate Storyline to Build Interactive E-Learning
  • May 17-20 (Orlando, FL). ATD International Conference & Expo. Swing by the Articulate booth to say “Hello.”
  • June 3 & 4 (San Francisco, CA). Updated! Register for one or both days. 
    Day 1: Learn to Create Your Own E-Learning Assets
    Day 2: Use Storyline to Build Interactive E-Learning
  • June 12 (Austin, TX). Use Storyline to Build Interactive E-Learning. Registration page coming soon.
  • Other locations include: Philadelphia, Memphis, Atlanta, Vancouver, and Toronto.

E-learning Community News

The post Rapid E-Learning’s Best of 2014 appeared first on The Rapid eLearning Blog.